Steve G.

Them door hangin’ bumper stickin’ yard signin’ Libertexians

In Libertarian on October 31, 2008 at 11:55 pm

The Libertarian Party of Texas has a record 173 candidates on the ballot for the November 2008 elections. The mere presence of candidates, whether active or minimally active, has generated lots of earned media for Libertarians in Texas.  Some of the candidates are running active campaigns complete with campaign materials like yard signs and brochures and volunteer organizing efforts.

For willing activists not engaged in specific candidate campaigns, the Libertarian Party of Texas is putting them to work promoting the party in general.   I don’t know what the elections results will look like on Tuesday, but I can say that we’ve done a great job in Texas giving every willing volunteer something to work on regardless of where they live in Texas.

Years ago I was bombarded by people offering to help, but I didn’t have something specific to recommend that was simple, achievable, and didn’t require a lot of assistance from me. For the past few years, when a volunteer stepped forward, I’ve had readily available projects to suggest.  Put up signs and door hangers! While we give the materials away for free to willing volunteers (the signs only cost us about $1.25 each and the door hangers about 5 cents each–plus shipping) many people donate far and above what the materials cost which helps to subsidize other willing volunteers who request materials for free.

We did this in 2006 as well. After the 2006 election season, we had tens of thousands of materials left over, but since they were generic “Vote Libertarian” materials, we’ve been able to use them in 2008.  In 2008, after having used up 2006 inventory, we’ve purchased an additional 100,000 door hangers, 2,000 yard signs, and 5,000 bumper stickers.  Most are deployed!

Here’s where we display them on our website:Libertarian Party of Texas Campaign Materials

While infighting amongst Libertarians seems to be the rule nationwide, I suspect having a way to put every willing volunteer to work on something productive here in Texas is why inherently independent and contrarian Libertarians in Texas are too preoccupied with Libertexian our state to be engaged in excessive destructive infighting.

I know I don’t have time to waste infighting and ridiculing. No way. Not me. Too busy. Too successful. Don’t have the time to stoop that low even if I were inclined to. Not gonna do it. Can’t.

Whoops! Just did it.

–Wes Benedict

Executive Director, Libertarian Party of Texas

  1. Wes you deserve lots of credit for the work that you and the crew have done in the Lone Star state. Hopefully at some point in the future we can do the same across the nation. Build that ase!!!!

    MHW

  2. Opps. That should have been ” Build that base!!!!”

    MHW

  3. Good job LP of Texas! This is the kind of activity I like to see.

  4. May I reiterate my support for Wes Benedict – for LP Executive Director?

    Imagine if Wes could duplicate his efforts and results at national? It’s very easy to imagine, in my mind! Now, if only Wes could help insure that real libertarians got the presidential and vice presidential nominations . . . THAT would be GREAT!!!

  5. This is a great example for other states to emulate.

  6. I applaud the use of the quiz in a non-perishable design. I do something similar with my campaign cards: http://marketliberal.org/RackCard.pdf

    Is the door-hanger circle an effective use of space? I find that the most efficient way to distribute campaign cards is on driver-side windows in parking lots. At a mass new-citizen event my girls and I can place hundreds of cards in just fifteen minutes.

    Is the reply postcard an effective use of space? How many of the postcards get mailed in? A space-saving alternative to consider is a URL that points to a special first-year membership discount. My paper collateral uses a special URL (.com instead of .org) so that I can measure traffic generated by paper handouts.

  7. Congratulations to Texas on the hard work. I’ve had several phone conversations with Wes and he has put a lot of love into helping people and developing good tools anyone can use as far as I am concerned, along with the team there. Whenever I’m able to visit or speak in Texas I’m enchanted by the hospitality and enthusiasm of many of the Libertarians there. Hope the below helps. Many thanks everyone.

    MG
    ______________________________

    Texas is doing what it should be doing as far as I can tell. As part of a LIO test, we handed out 50,000 windshield/door insert half-penny cards (made by creating 10 cards per photocopied sheet and bulk pricing) in a metro area of 1 million people driving recipients to an offer of the free quiz and a link for low cost gas to a dedicated LIO website. The sites are presented as non-partisan and welcoming all interested in voluntary solutions.

    There people could also download a copy of the reformatted LP legislative (2004) projects platform, a test version of the standard LIO program-platform, free copy of a windshield card for their car directing people to the site, various Lib links, and a service to sign up or recommend friends. We handed out an additional 20,000 half-penny slips in various drop-offs, petitions, and drives, and had a robo-call campaign all again driving people to the site.

    The results were excellent. We ended up with several coalitions, 11 libertarians in public office including a local mayor, and a contact list larger than national’s (not Libertarians, mind you, but interested persons). We are now proceeding to further tests with local neighborhood saturation, and tests in foreign countries; and a mass test using DISCOVER LIBERTY tabloids. Finally, people were encouraged to send links to their address books and get involved in the Advocates Awards program.

    We will have a LIO-approved kit in due course and an organization of present materials is underway but there is no need to wait, Wes is doing exactly what is most basic. Sufficient low-cost materials are already there or easily adapted.

    There is no doubt that the simplest, most cost-effective, and easy on the nerves way of spreading the good word is low cost handouts. You familiarize everyone and get a good 1% or better response rate that will give you more volunteers to train than you can immediately handle. Pinellas-Pasco then started a series of how-to workshops inviting non-Libertarians and libertarians interested in working outside the LP (see article).

    This sort of result demands some effort but will arise from just a few afternoons or even an hour or two of concentrated hand outs at shopping malls and local areas, or even continual casual handouts by several people (We took 5 people two afternoons). Posters for a few 1 hour action workshops on elections, taxes, civil liberties are also fruitful. By driving people to established links and the range of Libertarian solutions you engage the infrastructure those of my Libertarian generation fought so hard to establish.

    You don’t need the LP per se to do this and in fact better results are experienced by getting folks familiar first with non-partisan ISIL, Advocates’, etc materials, then encouraging them to the coalitions, activist activities or advisory boards, or personal projects (If a man stops abusing his family, that is a critical Libertarian victory) they like and are most easy to start. A typical local group of 5-6 people or a family committed to handing out 2,000 pieces of literature a year and getting involved in public affairs is well on its way at little financial cost.

    An article on this at: http://www.bestsyndication.com/Articles/2006/d/davis_mike/050606_libertarians_public_office.htm

    Strident debates on whether Barr did this or the platform accomplishes the other thing are all very well but without simple, low-cost activity on a local basis of this nature are quite meaningless. In contrast, as Wes indicates, if people are doing these basic activities while informing themselves on the range of libertarian solutions out there, its amazing how acrimony becomes results and infiltrators of various kinds move in search of easier victims.

    Party fathers such as David Nolan have also enthusiastically endorsed similar efforts. In Costa Rica they did the LIO approach and nothing else for 3 years until they had problem solving teams of 5 people in every district of 1000 and had handed out something to (or spoken to) nearly every Costa Rican.

    Look at your state, county, region, or metro area of 1 million. No Libertarians in office, handout program, etc? Get to work and build the Libertarian-leaning network and community, make them aware of the quality solutions, books, and discussions available, all else follows.

  8. Brian,

    My hunch is that the door hanger design inherently encourages volunteers to get out in their neighborhoods and put up the materials. In three years, we’ve purchased 400,000. Volunteers seem to be relatively willing to deploy them.

    Is the hole a good use of space? I’m not so sure. The printer is supposed to punch out the hole and discard it before sending them to us, but it doesn’t always work. Sometimes the holes stay in the door hangers (hanging chad-style) and I have to remove them myself. I do have several thousand 1.25″ diameter circles and I have yet to find something useful to do with them.

    Most parking lot owners in Texas have policies prohibiting putting campaign materials on cars in their lots. Nevertheless, I’m quite certain many cars in Texas parked in lots get lots of LP Texas door hangers placed on their windshields.

    Some candidates have reported stapling their campaign business cards to the door hangers and distributing them that way.

    Also, sometimes we chop the top portion off to form a card (without the door hanger hole) that can be handed out at events.

    Not very many of the postcards get returned and I’m not at all surprised by that based on what I’ve heard from major party candidates who design door hangers with postcards integrated into the design. Perhaps the postcard section is not an effective use of space. I designed a door hanger for use nationwide which does not have a postcard section. It’s displayed at http://quizacrossamerica.com/

    However, I decided not to attempt that project this election season cuz I got too busy. Note, that the source files are posted in case anyone wants to take them and modify them in the future to fit their preferences.

    Brian, your handout with your family is very nice. If I lived in your district, not only would I vote for you, but I’d volunteer to take some of your handouts and sneak onto parking lots and put them on cars.

    I don’t know what the best design of a handout is. Lots of things could work. However, I do place a lot of weight on actual proven ability to get out large numbers.

  9. The libertarian movement has been doing a pretty crappy job building local support for libertarian ideas. Take an area the size of, say, metro Midland-Odessa, TX. 300,000 souls and let’s say only 50% are adults times 5% ‘libertarian’ views times 5% who actually might be involved from time to time. That’s 375 people who potentially could be engaged in libertarian activity.
    Yet I wonder if the LP in that area has more than a handful.
    With President Obama and his wonderous policy prescriptions about to be rolled out for real, it is imperative that we libertarians get off our asses and start fighting all over the country.

  10. Awesome job, Wes. I really like the bumper stickers. In a land such as Texas, where some people have loyalty to Texas first, such a sticker could go over very well.

    I also like your term “Libertexian” and yes, I understand the fine points behind that second “i”.

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